Gender based violence (GBV) is one of the biggest drivers of HIV in women and girls and South Africa has a significant and well-publicised GBV problem. Yet there is still no national strategic plan to address it.
Studies show that women who have been exposed to gender based violence are 1.5 times more likely to acquire HIV. Particularly vulnerable are children, sex workers and lesbian, bisexual and transgender women.
Gender based violence is a fundamental violation of human rights, as enshrined in our constitution. Although we have supportive legal and policy frameworks in place to tackle gender inequality and violence, the issue in South Africa is a lack of coordination and poor implementation of the laws and policies already in place to safeguard girls.
Without a coherent, coordinated and budgeted plan to address GBV, it will continue to ravage our communities, perpetuated by an inter-generational cycle of violence. It is vital to sensitise and train frontline workers like the police, teachers, health and social workers and community care givers so that they provide compassionate and appropriate care to survivors of GBV.
Addressing gender equality is critical. Worldwide, support for women’s movements has been found to be a significant predictor of government action to redress violence against women.
We call for ZERO for women and girls in the National Strategic Plan (2017 – 2021) as well as a National Strategic Plan to stop GBV. Academics, civil society groups, NGOs and concerned citizens from across the country are calling on the South African Government to make a plan now to stop GBV.